League Top 20 Prospects

Pacific Coast League Top 20 Prospects Chat With Jim Shonerd

    Drew (IL): Where any Iowa cubs close to making the cut?

Jim Shonerd: Hey everyone, thanks for stopping by. Let's talk some PCL, eh? For Iowa, Jay Jackson came pretty close. He's got a power arm and the ball comes out real easy, just needs to refine his secondary stuff. Darwin Barney got some support also, as an intelligent player with a short swing and the ability to use the whole field.

    Matt (Naperville, IL): Scott Elbert and Ivan DeJesus — prospects or suspects?

Jim Shonerd: Elbert would've made the list most likely, but he came up short of qualifying, and that's a whole other story as we all know. I heard good things on him, with a tailing fastball at 92-95 and a slider with tilt. DeJesus, who missed 2009 with a broken leg, was moving better as the season went along. He's still a prospect and was solid all-around, but guys in the PCL didn't see any standout tools with him.

    Chris (Seattle): Thanks for the chat Jim. What do you see Justin Smoak becoming: all-star, solid regular, bust?

Jim Shonerd: I'll go with solid regular, maybe an occasional all-star.

    Mikey (Raleigh, NC): I'm a bit surprised Hank Conger missed the list this year. Could you elaborate on his omission, and your thoughts on his season?

Jim Shonerd: Gotta answer a question coming from my hometown. Conger didn't have a bad year statistically: .300/.385/.463 with 11 homers. But guys just weren't impressed with him, especially on defense. His footwork on his throws was poor, and as one scout put it to me, he just "gets it done ugly" back there. A switch-hitter, he's got power from both sides, but his swing looks better lefty than righy. His righthanded swing has more of an uppercut to it and just isn't as quick as his lefty swing. And while he could be an impact offensive catcher, there were doubts that his bat was good enough for a corner position should he move. So he'll have to work out as a catcher to make it, and that's not a sure thing at this point.

    Chuck (Wichita): Did Kila use up his prospect status? Any other Royals that were close?

Jim Shonerd: Chuck's referring to Omaha first baseman Kila Ka'aihue, and yes he has used up his prospect eligibility. Ka'aihue was neck-and-neck with Trumbo for that No. 20 spot. He's got leverage in his swing and outstanding discipline. One scout said he could see a Garrett Jones-type story happening with Kila.

    JAYPERS (IL): Your opinions on Michael Taylor's season as a whole? Is he a 21-30 prospect?

Jim Shonerd: Disappointing. He wasn't bad in the second half — .297/.376/.400 after the all-star break — but his lack of power was mystifying, only hitting six homers all year. To be honest, based on what I was told from people who saw him this year, I'm not even sure would've made this list if it went 30 deep. Maybe in the 26-30 range. People still liked his body and his physical tools, but he just looked like he wasn't getting ready for fastballs. It wasn't a problem of bat speed, but he'd get tied up, then he wouldn't be able to adjust to breaking pitches either.

    Jason (Rockville Centre, NY): Hey, Jim, appreciate the opportunity to chat. Of the all-hit, no-field corner infield types you mentioned who pepper this list — Brett Wallace, Mat Gamel, Chris Carter and Mark Trumbo — which one is most likely to have an All-Star caliber MLB career, based on a combination of their age, current skills, future development and opportunity in their respective big-league organizations? And which is most likely to fall short of being an everyday player?

Jim Shonerd: I'd probably put them in the order you list them, though it's tempting to flip-flop Gamel and Carter. On Trumbo, like his writeup mentions, most guys believed in him but support for him wasn't unanimous. One scout who wasn't as convinced about Trumbo put it to me this way: He'll be a heck of a player in Japan.

    Ben (Leland Grove): Had he qualified, about where would Jordan Lyles have fit in on this list, if at all?

Jim Shonerd: Lyles was about 3 starts short of qualifying. Just giving it a quick look, I probably would put him in the back half of the top 10, probably at No. 8 behind Scheppers and ahead of Arencibia. I like Scheppers' power arm a little more, while I'm more confident in Lyles than I am in any of Arencibia's tools besides power.

    Jack (North Carolina): Jim, is Michael Kirkman on par with Derek Holland in terms of stuff?

Jim Shonerd: One manager told me directly that Kirkman has better stuff, but that Holland was more refined.

    Kyle (NH): Brandon Allen. Does he get a shot in Arizona next year, or do he DBacks pick up LaRoche's option (or go another route via FA/Trade)? If he does get a shot, what do you expect?

Jim Shonerd: The sense I got is Allen's just not going to hit enough to be regular corner producer. He's got power for sure, but the bottom line is he can be pitched to. He can be tied up by fastballs inside and has trouble with lefthanders.

    Victor (San Diego): Jim, Now that we've seen Posey hit 18hr's in half a season, and seen his ability to drive the ball with power to the opposite field, do you think 20Hr potential may turn into a few years of 25-30+? Thanks.

Jim Shonerd: Sure, he could probably hit that many occasionally. He has the strength and consistently gets the barrel on the ball. He could probably do it more often if he really tried to sellout for power, but that's not his approach and that park's not going to help him either.

    Bryan (Palo Alto, CA.): Posey or Santana? And why?

Jim Shonerd: Wow, really tough call there. I think it's really splitting hair to try to find an edge between the two, but I might lean towards Santana since he's a switch-hitter.

    Greg (New York): Hey Jim,Pineda,starter or does he go to the bullpen when he gets to the big leagues? Thanks.

Jim Shonerd: I'd keep him as a starter until he shows he can't do it. His slider has plus potential if he can be more consistent with it and one scout told me his change can be an above-average pitch in time. Going to the bullpen is an option if those pitches don't come along, but he's just 21 and I wouldn't go down that path yet.

    Mike Moustakas (Pan Am Games): What are the reports on my defensive range? How long will I be able to stick at 3rd? Can my defense at least be MLB average?

Jim Shonerd: Everyone wants to worry about Moustakas' defense, but the PCL guys I asked about him thought those fears were overblown for the most part. Yeah, the body's not great. But for his size, he's athletic and moves well, and his arm is strong. He won't win any gold gloves, but he can handle an everyday job over there.

    Derrick (Birmingham, AL): What are the thoughts on Josh Donaldson? Showed alot of power and ability to drive in runs. What about him as big league catcher?

Jim Shonerd: Donaldson has some things to clean up defensively. Guys liked his energy back there though. At best, he'll be an offensive catcher, but scouts weren't sold on him.

    Kelly (STL): Did Lance Lynn get a decent look for your list? Any other Redbirds impress you this year?

Jim Shonerd: Lynn was one of the last cuts, probably would've been in the 21-23 range. He's got a good, riding low 90s fastball and a good curveball. He just has to show he can control the strike zone better. Allen Craig and Jon Jay got some support also. Craig's got plenty of power, but doesn't fit very well anywhere in the field and looks like a future power bat off the bench, at least for as along as he's employed by an NL team. Jay's approach matured this year and he can hit, but he doesn't have the speed to play center field every day or the power to play a corner, so he was projected as a bench guy as well.

    Zeebs (Palo Alto, CA.): If Brandon Belt had enough ABs would he had made the list? I know he didn't perform very well but where would he have ranked based on talent?

Jim Shonerd: Belt probably would've been competing with Wallace and Smoak for spot at the back of the top 10. I think I'd be inclined to give Belt a slight edge over those two, but he was well short of qualifying so I never gave him much thought. Ask me again tomorrow and I might have a different answer.

    JAYPERS (IL): Who has better overall plate discipline in your eyes and why - Logan Morrison or Carlos Santana?

Jim Shonerd: As adavanced as Morrison's discipline is, I'll go with Santana. His BB-K rate in the majors was amazing.

    Greg27 (Atlanta): Jim, hindsight's 20/20, but when all things are said and done, how do you think this list will stack up versus the one from 5 years ago? Are you bullish on this list?

Jim Shonerd: Much as I like Buster and Moustakas, I don't think I could bet on this list producing three big leaguers as good as Felix, Prince and Matt Cain. That said, this is my third year doing the PCL and I feel like the top of the list was the strongest of the ones I've done, but the depth wasn't there as much this year.

    kevin (brentwood,ca): Where would Clay Mortensen fit on your list. It seemed like he improved his control quite a bit.

Jim Shonerd: Mortensen's got a good sinker and generates a good downward plane, but his slider didn't really stand out and he wasn't viewed as more than a back-of-the-rotation guy.

Jim Shonerd: Ok, that'll do it for me. Come on back tomorrow as J.J. Cooper brings you the best prospects from around the independent leagues. Enjoy the LCSs and thanks again for coming out.